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The day the music died ....
But still, a few very short clips that somehow keep the embers of hope alive ...
I still remember, vividly, the day of Yitzchak Rabin’s funeral. My wife, kids and I lived in Los Angeles back then, but I was at my parents’ house in Baltimore for some work-related reason. In the morning, my parents both went out to work, while my own work stuff was cancelled because of the crisis in Israel.
There I was, alone in a house in a city in which I by then knew almost no one, trying to find some balm for a broken soul. I didn’t find any. And almost 28 years later, I can still picture the room in which I sat, watching the VHS recording we’d made of the funeral, time and time and time again.
Three years later, we moved to Jerusalem.
To be part of the healing? I don’t know.
Today was much worse than that. Yes, Israel was bitterly split then, but the immediate damage was caused by a lone, morally corrupt gunman. Not today. Today, dozens of people did this.
It no longer matters what side any of us were or are on. Israel as we once knew it no longer exists. It may heal, it may not. The army may survive, or it may not. (Earlier today, the IDF Chief of Staff wanted to brief senior ministers about the danger to the army if the legislation passed, but Netanyahu would not permit it. Apparently, he felt that the less information they had, the better decisions they could make.)
Yes, we needed judicial reform. Almost everyone knows that. But we needed unity more than that. And we could have had both.
And today, any semblance of unity, or even the possibility of restoring unity, died. More precisely, Israeli society as we knew it was murdered.
Tomorrow morning, the opposition will appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the law passed today. Indications are that the court may well, indeed, overturn the law. The government would likely then ignore that. Who, then, is in charge of the country? Will there be a Supreme Court with any power? That will not be clear for quite some time, as the legislative agenda is far from complete.
Reporters are already sharing “scoops” on what the head of the Mossad has said the security agencies will do.
It could not be more appropriate that we are just a bit more than 48 hours away from Tisha B’av. The timing of this is painful in ways that are impossible to convey.
Twenty-eight years ago, I was in a house by myself, watching the VCR play, and replay, and reply.
Today, I was also in a house by myself. The kids are married, long gone. My wife was in Tel Aviv with our grandson. I began the day at the protests, but then had to be home to spend hours at a keyboard, to meet a writing deadline for a magazine, a deadline which I will miss.
Instead of writing, I watched, again and again, the bedlam in the Knesset. Why was I so stunned? I guess I never believed we would really do this to ourselves.
Unlike 28 years ago, though, this time I live here. So I was fortunate to see things that I would never have seen if I were sitting in Los Angeles, or Baltimore.
I found myself flipping through videos on my phone from this morning, and as a small glimmer of some hope, I share them.
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This fateful day in Israeli history found many of us — on all sides of this — in the streets. Just a few hundred yards from where hundreds of protesters (whom you can hear in the background if you listen carefully) were already blocking the roads to the Knesset (water canons would later be brought in to disperse them), some of us gathered for Shacharit in Sacher Park, on the outskirts of the hundreds of tens that had housed protesters over the night.
It was a brutally hot morning, even at 7:30 a.m., a morning which, though we did not know it for sure then, would turn into a horribly sad day. But I will try to carry with me the two images below, which were part of the very same minyan. You don’t see that often …
… in the face of losing everything that matters to us, it’s somehow wondrous how people manage to bridge other divides.
So there’s this ….
and a few minutes later, this…. We haven’t added subtitles … you don’t need to understand his words to appreciate the profundity of the heterogeneity of the people at this minyan …
At least that. ….
Beyond that, we’re all too shattered to know what to say.
Earlier today, as the vote was beginning to unfold in the Knesset, I spoke with Ambassador Michael Oren, who earlier in the day had posted a plea on social media begging the sides to stop, not to pass the legislation, to step away from the abyss, to allow the country to heal.
It didn’t work, but as always, Ambassador Oren was wise, thoughtful, articulate. We will share our discussion with him tomorrow, for paid subscribers to Israel from the Inside.
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